Mumbai: Experts on Muslim community issues and NGOs working for the Muslim women on Thursday while agreeing that there are shortcomings in the existing Muslim personal law said that any change or reform should come from within the Muslim community, and it should not be 'state sponsored'.
"Indians are very sensitive to their religious affairs and practices but it does not mean that there is no room for reforms. However, these reforms need to be emerging from within the religious communities, not imposed on the communities from outside", Dr. Abdul Shaban, Deputy Director at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) said while talking to ummid.com.
Dr. Shaban, a leading Social Scientist who was a member of Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman Committee. The committee in its report submitted to the Maharashtra government has listed the arbitrary triple talaq system followed in India as one of the reasons of the backwardness of Muslim women.
Dr. Shaban was commenting on the Supreme Court's decision pertaining to registration of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to examine Muslim Personal Law to consider doing away with provisions biased against Muslim women, often victims of polygamy and the triple talaaq system.
Dr. Shaban also said that any attempt to forceful imposition would be counterproductive, and will kill the very purpose for which the reforms in the Muslim personal law are demanded since last few years.
"The imposition (from the state) will create reactions and confrontations, and may push progressive elements and community at large further back. What the state needs to guard is not the personal laws but not allowing the public provisions and resources being run on communal lines", Dr Shaban said.
"The triple talaaq issue needs to be left to Muslim social and religious reformers. They will find the way to evolve reformative change", he added.
Stating that Dr. Mahmoodur Rahman Committee had also recommended for internal reform within the community facilitated by the community members and intellectuals, Dr. Shaban said, "Historically, the reforms have been linked with rise in education and income. The government should assure these provisions to Muslims."
"However", he added, "We see many regressive and discriminatory provisions being adopted which instead of empowering the community are criminalizing their practices and occupations."
Agreeing to Dr. Shaban's views, Founder-President of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan (BMAA) Zakia Soman said the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) should use the Supreme Court's latest decision on triple talaaq and polygamy as an opportunity and should initiate the reform process for the betterment of the community.
"All major Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, have codified Shariah laws. They have all banned triple talaaq the way it is practiced in India. It is high time for the Muslim personal law board to take a lead and stop it also in India", she said while talking to ummid.com.
"There are clear guidelines in the Holy Quran about how, why and when divorce is permissible in Islam. The Muslim personal law board should on its own come out with a system which is based on these guidelines in order to avoid outside interference", she said.
She also said that the Muslim panel should approach the Supreme Court requesting it not to interfere in its religious matters, and that the board will come out with a system that will check the issue.
"Why are we so rigid on this issue? Are so many Muslim countries where triple talaaq in one go is not acceptable at fault? Have they done so outside the Shariah and Quranic framework? Certainly not.
"It is because of our rigidness that we are inviting outside intervention. The Muslim panel should without any delay convey it to the Supreme Court that we have a solution based on the Quranic guidelines to address the issue and there is no need for outside interference", she said.